Ten Keys for Success Selling Commercial Construction Products to Architects

What defines success for a manufacturer’s product representative who is selling to architects? Success is when a product representative is accepted as a trusted consultant and his manufacturer’s products are included in an architect’s specification as the standard of design. Architects and their consulting engineers are important members of the team that is hired by a building owner to complete a project to meet a specific set of needs. Although architects do not write purchase orders, manufacturers of construction products must call on them to be sure their products are included in the building specifications. A Product Representative’s 10 Key Concepts for Selling to Architects (These concepts also apply to selling to engineers.) Do your Research. For a first call on a particular architect’s office, learn as much as possible about the firm. Sources for information include the architect’s website, general contractors, subcontractors, and other architects. How is the office organized to handle design projects? Are they organized by design studio or by project? Does the architect have a particular clientele or type of work they pursue, or do they design for a wide variety of clients? Is a specific person designated to meet with product representatives, or is this the responsibility of each project manager? Be the Expert. Be technically knowledgeable about your product, industry, and competition. Use project photos and a list of local projects completed by your manufacturer as appropriate. Be prepared to answer an architect’s questions concerning product benefits, specifications, detail questions and pricing relative to competition. If it becomes necessary to check your manufacturer for an answer, provide it in a timely manner. Show Respect. Many manufacturers have a negative opinion of architects. They are described as “different,” fixed in their opinions, and in many other ways just frustrating. Product representatives need to recognize architects as hard working people with a job to do for their clients. Architecture is often a difficult and challenging profession. The architect is responsible for selecting all the varied products that are required to construct a building. They must design and detail the building and work with the rest of the building team to complete the project in a manner that provides the architect’s client with the value promised. For the architect to do his job, he needs professional, knowledgeable product representatives from a broad spectrum of manufacturers. Respect can go a long way in establishing strong personal relationships with architects. 4. Assist with Specifications. Understand how the specifications are generated. Is there a specification writer? Are the specifications generated from an office specification by the project manager and production team? Assist by asking to review the office specification or a specification for a specific project. This provides an...

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